In a summer of uncertain weather we have been lucky so far with our public rock-pool rambles. Westward Ho! looked good in the July sunshine and we had plenty of interest from the public with the help of a dozen or so Coastwise guides and the always popular basecamp aquarium.
The summer visitors soon proved to be enthusiastic and observant hunters. There was no shortage of Shore Crabs for the youngsters to find and bring to our basecamp aquarium where they could observe them at close quarters alongside sea snails, anemones, and prawns. Shorefish were more elusive but some Common Blennies and a Five-bearded rockling put in brief appearances. A pair of crabs that were seen actually mating was left in peace and all the borrowed animals held just for a short time.
Everyone had been invited to look for Hermit Crabs to see if any could be encouraged to swap their shells. Several were found, right and left handers, but all apparently well satisfied with their present accommodation, and the new shells left unclaimed.
The group that found their first Cushion Star was more successful, a holiday highlight; cuttlefish eggs and a Lesser Dogfish egg intrigued others, and seeing the beauty of Netted whelk egg-cases through a hand lens was a revelation for two youngsters. One young girl, whose wonderful curiosity had introduced her to hydroids when she asked about minute “hairs” on seaweed, told us that this had been the best day of her holiday - quite made up for the ingratitude of the hermit crabs.